Copyright Guide for Reserves

by Jeremy M. Brown last modified 2011-07-22T15:38:47-04:00

When do I need to obtain permission to use copyrighted works?

You need to obtain permission any time your use of the work goes beyond the Fair Use guidelines set forth in 17 U.S.C. §107. Ask yourself four questions to determine how "fair" your use is:

  1. How do I intend to use the work?
  2. For what use is the work intended?
  3. How much of the work will I use?
  4. How would the market for the original work or for permissions be affected if this use were widespread?

    Fair use tends to fall on the side of nonprofit, educational use of factual, published materials. One chapter of a multi-chapter book, one article from a journal, or one poem from a poetry collection tends to be good guidelines for determining how much of the work you can fairly use. Your use would probably be determined fair if it does not interfere with the potential market value of the work.


    How do I obtain permission to use a copyrighted work?

    The library will request permission on behalf of faculty. The library will assume the cost of royalties up to $10 per request. Faculty are responsible for charges over $10 per request. You will be notified of any changes. All approved charges will be billed to the requesting faculty’s department/school.

    Always allow plenty of time for copyright correspondence. It is a good idea to plan your reserve lists well in advance, so that you have time to obtain the necessary permissions.


    Are there any works that I can use without infringing on copyright or obtaining permission?

    Yes. Documents in the public domain are not protected by copyright, and you may use those freely for your classes.

    You may also use works to which you own the copyright. For example, if you write a problem set for your class, you own the copyright for both the problems and solutions. You are then free to place the solutions on reserve for your classes.


    How do I know if a work is in the public domain?

    The important thing is not to assume that a work is in the public domain just because you do not see a notice of copyright. Works in the public domain include:

    Materials on which the copyright has expired

    Materials for which the author never claimed copyright

    Materials produced by the federal government

    A copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author, or, for corporate publications, 95 years after the date of first publication or 120 years after creation, whichever comes first. When in doubt about the public domain status of a work, assume that it is copyrighted until you can obtain more information.



    Atlanta's Swilley Library and Macon's Tarver Library are consulting with the University Counsel to update our copyright policies. As we pursue compliance, we will continue to update the faculty and staff on any changes you will see in the library's operations. Please contact the library at (678) 547-6284 if you have other questions or concerns about your responsibilities under copyright law.